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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Lima then home

We fly back to Lima and spend the day in the Monestary catacombes which are full off an impossibly huge amount of human remains, arranged in chambers and concentric circles. The guide is awful and keeps sneaking out of the room ahead of us to hide. None of the group hear much of what he says and he just seems to prove our thoughts that Lima really has all the right ingredients and the wrong cooks. The tours elsewhere in South America have all been much better.

We eat tasty arabic food in Miraflores' posh restaurant district and have to say goodbye as Sophie goes out to get her flight. I spend the final evening in the hostel chatting to a welsh couple and drinking.

Final day - i get up early with a slight hangover and decide to walk the length of central Lima from Miraflores to the Plaza de Armas. The weather is foggy 9 months of the year here and it never rains. The bullfight museum is shut but I make a beeline for the art gallery and along the way I stop at Huaca Pucallana and see the pyryamids built of mud bricks. I get to the park but the gallery is shut so go to the Plaza San Martin where the sculptor misunderstood the order to place 'llama' (flame) on the staue's head and dutifully put a small llama. The walk takes all day and I finally get to the plaza and celebrate with a final Pisco Sour before getting my taxi to the airport and the long flight home.

Iquitos pt.2

We went and met our guide and went up river to visit the Yagua tribe. The tribe welcome us with red face paint and give us a welcome dance. It's all for tourists, but nice to see what you'd think of as a typical amazonian tribe. We fire blow darts at a target and buy a couple of trinkets, before leaving for the zoo.

At the zoo were groped by monkeys, handed caimen, clawed by parrots and draped with snakes. The guys are friendly and we drink a glass of Clavihuasi with them - apparently it's an aphrodisiac. When we pay, they don't have change and so we go out to a floating petrol station to get some!

Next day we go out to Lago Quistacocha where we see a selection of jungle animals including Puma and the 2m long Paiche fish, then walk around the lake and botanical gardens. For lunch we eat paiche - really tasty and more like white meat than fish.

The next morning we went back to the market for another look about and bumped into Lito again. We ask him to take us out to see the Vitoria Reina - the giant water lillies, and we do. On the boat today is Marlo and Jorge, 2 friends who also live in Belen. They invite us to go for a drink in a floating bar and we drink Chuchuhuasi & coke, while listening to the local talents of 'Ilusion' - a local band. When the bar is full on a weekend everyone is knee deep in water! After a few jugs of Chuchuhuasi we head back to Iquitos to find that the city is closed down in protest of the oil firms damaging the environment and pushing out the indigenous people.

Iquitos pt.1

Iquitos was a bit of a last minute decision between Equador and the North West, but I really wanted to see the stereo typical amazon tribes before leaving.

We woke up to find our room crawling with lines of ants and nearly ate a bowl of them with our cereal as they'd got into the bag over night. To continue to theme we ate alligator and turtle at a local restaurant for lunch after wandering around the tour agencies who were offering trips out to the amazon to stop in lodges, but many of the activites we had done in Bolivia, and so decided to stick around Iquitos instead. I'd recommened turtle but they are protected I found out later :S Ooops...

Later we met a guy who introduced himself to us in spanish and asked where we came from. We said 'Birmingham' and it turned out that Mad Mick had been to Black Heath market the week before to buy fishhooks! Proof that no matter how far you stray from home there's always someone else there who lives around the corner. That night we watched a Brazilian troup doing Capoeira as we supped a few lagers.

The market at Belen was incredible. We saw monkeys, turtles, snails and much more. While walking through we were approached by a boatman called Lito who offered us the chance to go out to see the floating town. Lito lived there and Belen was spectacular - a town of raft-houses with stilts sitting on the river alongside Iquitos. Boats passed with people selling goods and kids played in the water, there was even a gay bar! Back on land we met another local lad who asked if we wanted to go out tomorrow and we agreed to meet and go to visit the local tribes.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The trek to Kuelap pt.3

We eat and set off by taxi for the massive hillside fort of Kuelap. The site is as big as Machu Picchu but only partially excavated and the many circular building are covered in moss and surrounded by trees. Apart from us, there are 3 others at the sight - a bit of a difference from Machu Picchu! One reconstructed building shows how they would have looked (with pointy thatched roof) and we're shown carved animals in the entranceways in the stonework.

We drive back to Chachapoyas and eat Guinea pig (which is definately recommended) with Tom & Brad after realising at 11pm that in order to catch our flight tomorrow we are going to have to leave at 4.30am!

We get up early and get a combi to Pedro Ruiz - a transport hub we're told. We get there an hour later and are told that the only way to get to Tarapoto we have to go back the way weve come to cajamarca and then get another combi from there... Much much later we arrive in Tarapoto on the edge of the amazon and settle into a restaurant in a downpour. Unwillingly I order curried cows stomach - but I suppose thats what happens when you just order unknown things from a menu! We get our plane to Iquitos - the biggest city in the world inaccessible by road - and crash out.